Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tampa on My Mind

I spend most of my working hours trying to figure out who is going to remember what and under what circumstances. We make some progress, but there is no shortcut to unlocking the human mind.

Life ticks by at a pace of 365 days a year. I've lived well over 10,000 of them by now. Most are lost within my neural network. Some stand out with amazing clarity: the days my kids were born, my wedding, my Ph.D. graduation, and the horrible hangover the day after my Ph.D. graduation.

Those are obvious candidates to recall. Yet others are not -- at least not to the degree to which I continue to think of them.

In the spring of 1997 (eee gads, a decade ago), we were busy working in the student newspaper at New Mexico State. Someone got the idea to go to Florida for spring break, and our friend D's father, Jake, lived in Tampa.

Off we went. Emily, D, Angie, and I.

The trip was great, and I remember a great many things: Ybor City, Busch Gardens, Paradise Island, Emily's misfortune on the Interstate. What I remember most was Jake's condo.

As condos go, it was not extravagant by any means. But it was moderately high up, located on the intracostal waterway, and it had two wonderful patio doors to let in all of that tropical air.

The Gulf of Mexico was only a few hundred yards to the west, and you could hear the waves at night.

The tropical air and the sun were so incredibly peaceful.

I think about the condo a lot. It's my happy place, so to speak.

Jake has long since sold it. Emily, D, Angie, and I have fled New Mexico for Texas, Illinois, and California. Yet that Tampa tropical air remains indelibly stained upon my mind.

On stressful days in stressful weeks in stressful months, I can close my eyes and still smell that air and see the boats travelling back and forth on the intracoastal waterway. It's a rare moment of peace for an otherwise frenzied mind.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now based on what you know about memory and distinctiveness, do you think Tampa would be more or less salient in your mind if you lived somewhere very similar to Tampa? How about if you lived somewhere very very unlike Tampa?

Fyi, the weather in Dublin is improving, but it's no Tampa.

3:34 PM  

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